Friday, May 11, 2018

How Consistent Do We Need To Be?

Source: LiveAction https://www.liveaction.org/news/amazing-photos-of-preborn-babies-in-the-womb-show-that-life-begins-at-fertilization/

Pro-Lifers like me are inconsiderate, hypocritical jerks.

That's what you will think if you spend enough time listening to those who criticize pro-life conservatives for their alleged inconsistency. Consider the words of Pastor John Pavlovitz during the 2016 Presidential Election, a writer, activist and so-called star of the religious left:

"I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you practice a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you, comprises a very narrow demographic—one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.
You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses." -John Pavlovitz, "GOP-I Wish You Really Were "Pro-Life"
Pastor Pavlovitz then goes on a very emotional diatribe about the alleged inconsistencies of conservative pro-life advocates, highlighting how they are not really "Pro-Life" unless they take the time to address every other issue of controversy.

Aside from not citing a single example of pro-lifers actually arguing that only "straight, white, Christian fetuses" should be spared from abortion, and also ignoring the work of pro-life advocates like Star Parker, Dr. Alveda King, Christina Marie Bennett, and many others, all of whom uniquely focus on the problem of abortion in minority communities, he doesn't provide a single explanation for why any of the issues he lists need to be addressed with the same seriousness as abortion. He simply assumes moral equivalency, without providing any arguments for that assumption whatsoever. He then goes on to ridicule his opponents for what he sees as selectively valuing only life until birth.

Apart from these gross academic errors, I would raise a question for Pastor Pavlovitz: Let's assume that pro-lifers like myself actually did everything he was asking of us. We supported socialized medicine, ending capital punishment, gun control, police reform, and the military. Will Pavlovitz and those who make this kind of argument then join us in opposing abortion on demand? Chances are, they will say no, to which one should respond, "Then why bring up our supposed inconsistency in the first place? If you support abortion, then offer a defense of it, instead of attacking me personally."

To cite another example, a few weeks ago I was helping put up a graphic abortion display at San Diego State University. A young woman, quite angrily, began asking me whether or not I opposed war, inhuman treatment of animals, or supported same-sex marriage. Stopping her so I could offer a response, I asked the following:

"Tell me, if I were to join you in supporting all your views on those issues, would you then join us in opposing elective abortion?"
"Of course not! I am solidly, 100% pro-choice!"
To which I responded, "Then why did you highlight those other issues, which really have nothing to do with abortion, when you support any abortion for whatever reason? Why not offer a defense of that, instead of changing the subject?"

Instead of refuting the pro-life argument, bringing up supposedly inconsistent beliefs does nothing to justify killing a preborn baby. It's simply a lazy way to change the subject and score cheap points by making people you disagree with look bad. Such a behavior is pretty unbecoming of anyone claiming to be educated, let alone claiming to support justice.

Mr. Pavlovitz, I wish you really did care about social justice.




Thursday, May 10, 2018

Personhood Theory: The False Dichotomy Between Humans and Persons


Surrounding the abortion debate, there is a distinction that is made between being a human and being a person. Advocates for abortion argue that just because someone is human does not necessarily mean they are a person. The argument is no longer about whether or not the unborn are human. That is clearly established through the science of embryology. Personhood is now the benchmark of determining value and worth as a human being. The problem is that no one agrees when personhood begins. Some say it is ability to feel pain, others say it is cognitive awareness, while others argue it is the ability to exercise rational thought.

Dichotomizing the human and the person provides the pathway for egregious injustice. We are not the first people in history to apply this theory and use language in a way that denies an entire group of people their rights as human beings. Hitler used dehumanizing language against the Jews and they were not seen as persons. Americans used dehumanizing language against blacks, and they were not viewed as persons. Now we use dehumanizing language against the unborn claiming they are not “persons” like us until they can meet some arbitrary standard. We are familiar with the saying that those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it, but even those who do know history still allow evils to repeat themselves. They come back to us in different forms with different groups of people being targeted. Every time the injustice is vehemently defended so that people can feel moral and pious in their advocating for evil. This is what has happened with abortion.

Abortion rights hide behind a selfish façade of human rights, women’s rights, and personal freedom. We do not have the right to do what is wrong. Our human rights should never trample on someone else’s right to life. The personhood theory places value on a human being based on what they can do for society. A short story by Philip Dick called “The Pre-Persons” written in 1974 illustrates the slippery slope that personhood theory places on society. In that world, no one was a person until they were twelve years old and capable of doing algebra. This standard was enforced by a totalitarian state. The personhood theory now pushed in America has not reached that extreme but who’s to say it won’t in the future? Many bio-ethicists already support infanticide and euthanasia based on the personhood theory. When our value as human beings is based on what we do, no one is safe. Right now, people attribute personhood to an ability to feel pain, a capacity for cortical brain functioning, reasoning, viability or consciousness. Everyone exercises these things in varying degrees in their life. Who’s to say that these give us value and magically make us persons? Arbitrary standards for being persons need to be resisted. We are valuable simply because we are human. If personhood theory is correct, equal human rights are non-existent. Be on your guard against the dichotomy of humans and persons. One day, the state might decide you are not a person based on some arbitrary function you cannot adequately exercise.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Why The Church Must View Abortion Images

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ gives a powerful message to His audience on the dangers of focusing so hard on being religious that we overlook those most in need of our help. (Luke 10:25-37). Using as examples a Jewish Priest and Levite who simply passed on by a man who had fallen prey to a group of robbers while traveling to Jericho, he highlights that it was a Samaritan, a class hated by the first century Jewish community, who best exemplified the commandment to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Today, the danger of passing by those in need on the issue of abortion has to be continually emphasized in the church. Consider the following data, collected and published by CareNet:


  • 4 in 10 women who had an abortion were churchgoers at the time of their decision
  • Only 7% of women discussed their abortion with anyone at church
  • Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.

  • A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
  • Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
  • Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options

Clearly, abortion happens far more within church congregations than many are comfortable admitting. However, there are many within the church today who think that this issue is overly discussed, and needs to be talked about less in contrast with other issues. Consider the following comments from Pastor A.R. Bernard. He asserts that the church should focus less on "personal sins" like abortion and same-sex marriage, because black evangelicals like himself are more concerned with other issues, like police shootings and "income inequality". 

Aside from the debates over whether those are major problems today(For more on these topics, see Walter E. Williams "Race and Economics" and Thomas Sowell's "Discrimination and Disparities") the moral problem of abortion still remains for the church: If 900,000 women are having abortions in America per year, and 4 in 10 women who have abortions were attending church at the time, then 225,000 or more abortion minded women were sitting in church pews across our nation in one year's time. That is not a small number. 

What leads many church leaders to shy away from discussing abortion? I'm convinced it's because the church doesn't want to talk about the act of abortion itself. Many will talk about it in terms of an abstract, political issue(And many then go on to add "But we don't talk about politics here") But most will never show their congregations just what an abortion does. In fact, I am convinced that many leaders aren't aware of the horrific nature of the abortion act itself.

This is a wrong approach, I think. If congregations and church members are not aware of just what abortion does to the unborn child(And to her mother) then if follows that they won't stop to consider the ramifications of that decision, both morally and spiritually. This is why I think, now more than ever, congregations must compassionately address the issue today by showing abortion, exactly as it is, through pictures of what it actually does. If 225,000 preborn children a year are at risk of being killed, then to not address this issue is to pass by on the "other side of the road" when our neighbors are in the most need. 

I think the method of showing abortion imagery that is used by pro-life speakers at LTI and elsewhere, such as Scott Klusendorf, Greg Koukl, and Dr. Mike Adams, among others, is the best method for doing this. They will give the context for showing the images, and will make the viewing optional by dimming lights or cutting out the sound from the video. Children who are under the age of 13 are sometimes encouraged to leave the room, but parents can make the decision to let them watch if they so choose. If in front of a church audience, they will show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives the best answer and hope to those in the congregation who have experienced abortion, or know someone who has. Even more so, having a post-abortion healing ministry present at the church or resources on hand can help those who most need help. Groups like Silent No More and Surrendering the Secret are phenomenal in helping post-abortive men and women find the hope and forgiveness that is offered by Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, there are some pro-life speakers who have sprung the images on audiences without warning; however, if appropriate warning is given, congregations will not only know the need for engaging on the abortion issue, they will know what exactly is at stake with abortion itself: The intentional killing of an innocent human being.

Some may object and will raise the concern that this will cause guilt for those who have experienced abortion, which is a valid concern. However, I think the better question to be asked is: Are we really helping anyone by not addressing the issue? You may remember several years ago when a French Court banned a video of Down's Syndrome children because it may unintentionally cause guilt for women who had made the decision to abort their child because he or she had been diagnosed with the disorder. That should raise a question: How far are we willing to go to spare someone guilt? Should we hide the truth so as to ensure that no one experiences pain? Or should we show the truth in a manner that will obviously raise pain, but in such a way that can help bring those in pain to find healing? And if showing that truth can help others avoid the future pain of a bad decision, is it worth the risk? I think the answer is obvious.

Jesus called out those who pass by on the other side of the road when their neighbors are in the most need of their life. When our neighbors' lives are at stake, avoiding truth is not an option.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Answering the "Women's Perspective" Argument for Abortion

In continuing my posts looking at the effects of post-modernism on the abortion debate (You can access part one and part two here). I would like to highlight another way that the postmodern worldview has influenced the way members of our society view the pro-life argument, and give some practical tips for engaging this view. Since I have already addressed several of the fatal flaws in relativism, I will focus more specifically on how relativism manifests itself in the most common slogan of the pro-choice movement in the West today.

Many pro-life men(myself included) have had the slogan repeated to us that since we cannot get pregnant, we should remain silent on the issue of abortion. To put it another way, since men cannot experience the troubles that come with pregnancy, it is assumed (On this view) that they have nothing of importance to add to the discussion on abortion.

It is definitely true that men canUsually, at this point, pro-lifers will correctly point out that Roe V Wade was decided by men who could not experience pregnancy. However, this misses the point that the critic of the pro-life view is making: Pro-Choice advocates in this case are not saying that any view on abortion is nullified because it is held by a man(Though some do believe this). Instead, it is the ability to experience pregnancy itself that is the deciding factor in whether or not a woman can choose to end her pregnancy.

While this may seem sound to some, I think it falls apart under closer scrutiny.

First off, why should anyone accept the claim that the ethics of any action taken is solely up to how a person may feel when faced with that dilemma? Should only parents have a say in whether or not it is wrong to abuse a born child? I personally do not have children, but it would be crazy to assert that because I don't have kids, I cannot therefore step in to stop someone from abusing their own children.

Second, the pro-life argument does not rest on anyone's experience. Suppose every single person who opposes elective abortion was a male. What logically follows? Not much. Sure, pro-life men may not be able to sympathize with the emotional turmoil that a woman in a crisis pregnancy may be experiencing, but that proves little. The pro-life argument is that abortion is wrong because it intentionally ends the life of an innocent human being. If it does not intentionally end the life of an innocent human being, then it is not wrong. No experience with pregnancy is needed in order to understand this.

As I stated above, there is a subtle form of relativism that does creep into the argument as well, especially when gender politics is raised. When many feminist groups(Not all) bring up the issue of men not being able to engage on the abortion issue, they are assuming a form of cultural relativism, that relegates values to distinct cultures and sub cultural categories. Since men and women would generally qualify as two sub categorical groups, they may end up viewing an issue such as abortion differently, and thus, one group does not have a view superior to another.

Now, aside from overstating one's case drastically (It's simply not true that all men oppose abortion while all women support it; in fact, many men support it for what they can gain, which is easy sex.) The idea also still assumes that the pro-life argument is completely subjective, and is true for some people but not others. The assumption is that since pregnancy primarily affects women, they should decide the morality of killing the child whom they are pregnant with.

 However, that isn't the way that rights(Including abortion rights, if they exist) end up working. To say that a right or a wrong only exists if someone or some people personally choose to accept it would completely undermine any claim to legitimacy for any right, including abortion. The abortion supporter is thus stuck asserting that the right to abortion only exists for her personally if she feels like it does, but if others feel like it doesn't, then she is out of luck.

It seems odd to think of a notion like intrinsic rights being something as superfluous as a desire for spicy food or chocolate ice cream, which means that any right that human beings have for simply being human is not merely a preference for a particular individual or group. Thus, a right that exists across individuals and groups is capable of being recognized by everyone. If that right extends to the unborn as well, then both men and women are capable of recognizing that right, and the injustice of when that right is taken away. Therefore, the assertion that the abortion debate depends solely on women's perspectives fails in this regard as well.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Social Parallels of the America that Enslaved Blacks and the America that Kills Unborn Babies.


There is truly nothing new under the sun. I have been taking some time to study the social parallels between the America that enslaved people based on the color of their skin and the America today that kills unborn humans based on their size and whether or not they are wanted. The parallels are thoroughly depressing. We have not changed or progressed at all as a nation. The south in the antebellum period of American history defended slavery by arguing that it was essential to social progress and economic success. Abortion is similarly defended as being a crucial right women have so that they can pursue their dreams and benefit their own social standing emotionally and economically.
            During the antebellum period, an entire group of people were not considered equal to other people. Current America would not dare utter the words, but our actions and laws show that we also view an entire class of people unequally. We have placed an entire group in a dehumanized category so that some individuals can make “progress” in their lives at the expense of someone else’s life.
            It helps to dull the conscience so that evil can be perversely twisted into something that is seen as “beneficial for society” by so many people. Slaveholders argued that the institution of slavery benefited the slave because it spared him from something worse. They masked their evil by saying they wanted to prevent the slave from possessing something he/she was not equipped to handle: freedom. I’m sure you have heard the statement, “Every child a wanted child”. Abortion advocates claim that we need to spare children from pain, poverty, and medical challenges in the future so we should end their lives by abortion. They say we should not allow an “unwanted” child to be born. Ending their lives is “benefiting” the children, women, and society, because it is supposedly preventing harm in the future that would be too difficult and burdensome to bear. History has repeated itself.
            Slavery advocates argued that blacks were intellectually and physically inferior to whites. Now some argue that the fetus is not valuable because it cannot function intellectually/mentally on the same level as another human. As for the physical aspect, if you are small, dependent, and less developed, then you are inferior in this country.
            In the America that enslaved blacks, it was simply assumed that they were inferior and not part of society like the whites were. It is also assumed that the unborn are not one of us and not part of society as born people are. They are unjustly excluded from the protections that grant rights to all “persons” in this country.
            Many Southerners saw the institution of slavery as the basis for freedom. In the same way, many people view abortion as essential to the freedom of women. To which I add the question, which women?     
            These parallels are paradoxically depressing yet encouraging in a way. It is encouraging in that now, the vast majority of Americans look back on the race-based slavery that existed and are appalled that that happened in this country. We rightly look back in horror at the injustice that took place. In the same way, one day abortion will be unthinkable. People will look back on this time and wonder how anyone could have ever allowed that to happen. They will wonder how we ever justified the evil of abortion and how we let it go on for so long. But as we understand that the nature of human beings have not changed, when that time comes and people look back on abortion in horror, they will have their own social injustice right under their noses that they justify. History indeed repeats itself. There is nothing new under the sun.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hard Cases Make Bad Law [Clinton Wilcox]

Over at the Seattle Times, Bettina Paek, a maternal fetal medicine physician in Kirkland, wrote an opinion article called "Abort a baby to save twin: Painful choice that is a mother's to make." She recounts a difficult story about Lisa and Nick, a couple having twins who shared a placenta and the same amniotic sac. Lisa experienced complications in the pregnancy. As Dr. Paek explains, it is uncommon for both twins to share the same amniotic sac, and when they do, they share the same blood vessels. As can happen, the twins' umbilical cords can get tangled up, cutting off blood flow. Since both babies share the same blood vessels, if one twin dies, the other soon follows. This was Lisa and Nick's situation, as described by Dr. Paek.

Lisa and Nick's twins had their umbilical cords wrapped around each other. One twin was alive and vigorous, the other one was dying, his heart rate decelerating rapidly. Once the dying twin's heart stopped pumping completely, the resulting change in blood pressure would cause the other twin to pump all of his blood into his dying brother. It was a tragic, difficult situation. The only solution was to close off the umbilical cord of the dying baby and cut through it. This would sever the vascular connection between the two brothers, which would result in the dying twin's death almost immediately. However, it would save the healthy twin. If Dr. Paek had waited for nature to take its course, it would be too late to save the healthy child.

This seems almost like a textbook example of a triage case: both patients are in mortal danger (even though the second twin was still healthy and vibrant at the time, he was in mortal danger because of his dying twin), and you can only save one. Which one do you save? In this case, it was only possible to save one child.

I don't fault Dr. Paek for her decision. She clearly considers this to be a tragic case and would have preferred both twins to survive. In fact, I agree that Dr. Paek did the right thing, and that the parents did the right thing by requesting the surgery. Not only could this be justified as a case of triage (act to save one patient or end up losing them both), but it could also be justified by double-effect reasoning: one twin was already dying, so the death of that twin was not aimed for -- the immediate death of the twin was foreseen, but not intended. If it was medically possible, the doctor would have saved them both (which seems clear from the context of the article). And while the doctor says her severing of the umbilical cord "killed" the dying twin almost immediately, she is not making a distinction between a direct and indirect killing. In this case, the death of the fetus was not caused by a direct action from Dr. Paek, but from an indirect action on her part, the severing of the umbilical cord.

Now here's the rub: this is clearly a medical emergency. But Dr. Paek wants to argue that the bill the Senate was going to vote on, outlawing abortion after 20 weeks (which, we know now, failed to pass a Senate vote) would criminalize surgeries like the one she performs. It would also criminalize, she claims, other "hard case" surgeries like abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities incompatible with life which, Dr. Paek asserts, make up the vast majority of terminations after 20 weeks. But as Secular Pro-Life has reported, it's simply not true that the vast majority of late-term terminations are due to fetal abnormalities. Women abort in the late term for socioeconomic reasons, just like they do in the early term, mixed with the fact that she either didn't know she was pregnant or was unable to secure an earlier term abortion.

Unfortunately, abortion-rights advocates tend to resort to the extreme difficult cases in order to justify all abortions remaining legal. But as has been rightly said, hard cases make bad law. Saying that we should legalize all abortions because there are extreme rare cases where it may be needed is like saying we should legalize speeding because there may come a day someone may have to rush a loved one to the hospital. Doctor Paek saved a baby's life in this surgery, but with abortion, the end result, and the aim, is a dead baby.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Love For Innocent Children and Guilty Adults [Mike Spencer]

When it comes to speaking up for preborn children targeted by abortion, the vast majority of churches choose silence over faithfulness. Although many churches have eloquent pro-life statements in their by-laws, few do anything to stop the killing even within their own four walls. The church’s refusal to blow Ezekiel’s trumpet for the preborn has become our great scandal. Could the heroes of Hebrews 11 whose faith compelled them to “shut the mouths of lions, quench the fury of flames, route foreign armies” and “administer justice” have imagined a day when shepherds who are called by God to protect the flock would instead surrender precious children from their own flock to the abortionist’s knife without so much as a whimper from their pulpits? God help us. God help the preborn.

There are many reasons for the church’s silence, but none of them are good ones, given the fact that Proverbs 31:8 clearly commands us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” One excuse that is particularly troubling is when pastors spiritualize their disobedience with comments like, “Preaching against abortion will distract me from the gospel” - as if speaking up for helpless children and sharing the gospel of Christ are competing interests. Notice that no one in the Body of Christ ever argues this way with respect to victims of sex trafficking or the homeless. Only the preborn are treated with such contempt. And only in hell could one consider rescuing children from the abortionist’s knife a “distraction.” Jesus rebuked His disciples for this pernicious thinking when He told them, “Suffer the children to come to me.” Far from a “distraction” from the gospel, rescuing helpless children from abortion is the gospel in action.

Preaching against the sin of abortion, or against any sin for that matter, does not turn people off from the gospel; it turns them on to it. As Jesus taught, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:19). I was reminded of this truth several times in the months of January & February as I had opportunity to speak in 5 churches and at several other events in Washington, Oregon, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In each church I spoke plainly and boldly of the evil injustice of abortion. I also spoke plainly and boldly of God’s grace, pointing those who’ve had abortions to the One who died to forgive them. I explained that Jesus not only offers forgiveness from the sin of abortion, but the Holy Spirit also promises to begin a sanctifying work that He will carry on “to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”, (Philippians 1:3). In other words, God not only forgives, he heals and restores. I pleaded with those who had abortions not to leave without speaking to me or to their pastor.  I was approached several times by both men and women. Far from being turned off from the gospel, preaching against abortion led these dear ones to recognize their need for the gospel. It was my joy to direct them to verses like Isaiah 53:5 and John 8:36 and to pray with them. In addition, I was able to connect one woman to a post-abortion Bible study through her local pregnancy care center.

Abortion is evil because it kills innocent children, but the gospel of Christ is beautiful because it provides forgiveness for guilty adults. Faithful shepherds do not hide such hope from those who’ve had abortions. Christ calls pastors to thunder from their pulpits both the evil of abortion and the grace of God. The church that fails to fulfill either of these obligations fails to love as Christ has called her to love.

In short, we’re never forced to choose between speaking up for innocent children and pointing guilty adults to the gospel of Christ. Instead, by “speaking the truth in love,” we do both (Ephesians 4:5).